Thursday, April 20, 2017

Underworld: Blood Wars 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
The fifth installment in the blockbuster franchise, the high-octane sci-fi thriller, Underworld: Blood Wars, debuts on digital April 11 and 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray and DVD April 25 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Kate Beckinsale (Underworld franchise) returns as iconic Death Dealer Selene, more powerful than ever before. As the war between Vampires and Lycans escalates, Selene must end the battle that has raged for centuries, once and for all. Underworld: Blood Wars also stars Theo James (The Divergent Series), Lara Pulver (Edge of Tomorrow), Tobias Menzies (“Outlander”), Bradley James (“Damien”), James Faulkner (“Game of Thrones”) and Charles Dance (“Game of Thrones”).

Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Death Dealer Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is hunted by both Lycans and Vampires. The Lycans are in search of the location of her daughter, whose hybrid blood will ensure the elimination of vampire kind. The Vampire Semira (Lara Pulver) offers a truce in order to bring Selene back to the northern coven. Semira promises that future offenses will be forgiven if Selene trains a new wave of death dealers. A death warrant was signed for Selene’s head after she killed an elder and had a child with hybrid Michael.  

Selene has been on the run with fellow Vamp David (Theo James) and his father Thomas sells the council on Semira’s offer. Semira enlists her boy toy Varga (Bradley James) to betray Selene, sending her and David back on the run. They head for the Nordic coven where they prepare to battle vampires and lycans who oppose them. At the remote location, David will learn about his history and Selene will become something else.

Underworld is one of my favorite franchises, yet I admit that none of the sequels have lived up to the first film. Some of them aren’t particularly good and don’t make sense, but I still enjoy watching Selene kick butt in her leather corset. The franchise didn’t need to go on this long and is supposed to have at least one more film. If you aren’t a fan of Underworld, Blood Wars probably feels like they’ve repeated themselves many times over. If you are a fan, it might still feel that way but probably won’t care.  

Every additional Underworld movie is more of the same – which is fine with me. Underworld: Blood Wars does include a particularly violent death that fans should enjoy. What’s new is the Nordic coven and its abilities.  You’ll get to see vampires move like never before. I’m still interested in the story and will stay on board the franchise train for as many more as they make (starring Kate Beckinsale).  If they ever kill off Selene, they will probably lose me.
Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Underworld: Blood Wars is presented in 2160p UHD format with a 1080p Blu-ray disc included.  It’s a bit of a trade off in formats. The Blu-ray lacks the clarity of the 4K version as the UHD version offers a razor sharp picture. When you watch the Blu-ray right after it appears almost blurry by comparison. You’ll notice more skin textures and clothing detail in UHD and Selene’s leather truly shines. The film is mostly dark and the black levels pale a bit within 4K.  You have to watch the 4K to see Selene’s eyes glow blue but may feel ask though you are missing some depth.
Audio (5 out of 5 stars)
Underworld:  Blood Wars offers a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack on Blu-ray and a Dolby Atmos Soundtrack in UHD. The audio quality is great on Blu-ray and is elevated in every way for the 4K transfer. The Atmos allowed me to truly appreciate the directionality and speed of gunfire. You can close your eyes and feel like you’re in the middle of a rainstorm later in the film when the weather takes hold. Dialogue is consistent and intelligible in both formats, which are well prioritized.
Extras (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
There are no extras on the 4K UHD disc apart from the cast and crew photos and moments collections.  The following supplemental features can be found on the Blu-ray:
  • The Evolution of Selene (8:09) - Cast and crew discuss Kate Beckinsale’s 4th time playing Selene and take a look back at the character’s history and motivation.
  • Old & New Blood (6:16) – A look at the old vampires (David and Thomas) and the new Nordic coven. Includes a discussion of the differences between the eastern and northern vampires.
  • The Evil Evolved (6:07) – Lycans vs. Vampires and the survival of the fittest. The power players are explored in this featurette.
  • Building a Blood War (12:03) – Your basic behind the scenes featurette with discussion of set design, costumes, visual effects, mythology and new characters.
  • Underworld: Blood Wars Graphic Novel – If your eyes are good and you aren’t too far from the screen you can read a graphic novel, launching from the beginning or choosing a specific page.
Summary (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Underworld: Blood Wars is another chance to watch Selene kick butt and take names. It continues the story of the vampire/lycan feud and contains similar action as previous films. The Blu-ray is a little light on supplemental features but looks and sounds very good on both Blu-ray and 4K ultra high definition. The more I watch it, the more it grows on me and I recommend the purchase for Underworld franchise fans. If the other films didn’t excite you then it’s likely that nothing about this will either. If you are unfamiliar with Underworld, I recommend starting at the beginning to understand Selene’s journey.

Order your copy today!

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